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News archive - March 2015

Setting a benchmark for palliative care

Setting a benchmark for palliative care

A new benchmark has been set for palliative care environments following comments from a relative of a woman who passed away at a Blackpool hospice.

Two years ago, Julie Huttley, clinical director of Trinity Hospice, took a call from the niece of a lady who had died at the unit three years previously. While she praised the care provided by staff, she said that as her relative was dying her breathing was very noisy. Her aunt was not distressed, but she felt embarrassed for the other patients in the room and apologised. She advised that if the hospice ever had the chance to create more single rooms to increase privacy and dignity, it should.

This conversation was the catalyst for a complete overhaul of the facility, a scheme that was shortlisted by judges as the 2014 Building Better Healthcare Awards.

Working with experts from The King’s Fund, the hospice management team and designers from Gilling Dod Architects held workshops with patients, their families, and members of staff to plan the refurbishment of the adult inpatient unit and improvements to Brian House Children’s Hospice.

Maximising space

Among the improvements are architectural alterations aimed at enhancing and maximising the internal layout, resulting in the provision of all-important additional single bedrooms, accessible en-suite shower rooms, and discreet off-ward seating areas for private discussion.

Privacy, dignity and patient choice were at the heart of the brief, with patients now able to choose between single or double-occupancy rooms, with relatives able to stay overnight.

Also key to the project was to enhance wayfinding, making the unit easier to navigate. This was achieved through the use of coloured zoning emphasised with artwork installations.

New signage, colour coded to match each zone, is dementia friendly and toilet and bathroom doors have been painted yellow so they can be easily identified. Accessibility is further enhanced by the introduction of strongly-coloured handrails, and the replanning of the internal layout has allowed the assisted bathroom to be increased in size. A new access control system ensures patient safety.

All finishes throughout the hospice have been selected to create a warm, reassuring and homely environment, with wallpaper and carpeting throughout, together with non-clinical upholsteries and curtains. All meet stringent infection control policies and are easy to clean.

‘Amazing’ transformation

“These innovations and advances in materials set a precedent for future schemes, and their durability and ease of maintenance will ensure that the finishes achieve a long lifespan,” said Sarah Delucia-Crook, business development manager at Gilling Dod Architects.

Sustainability was a key consideration and from the outset all elements that could be retained and refurbished, such as doors, were identified. New energy-efficient lighting was installed throughout as well as replacement windows.

At the adjoining Brian House Children’s Hospice improvements were also made. The original kitchen has been replanned and replaced with candy-coloured units and a digitally-printed splashback and bespoke vinyl flooring of marshallows adds a sense of fun to the space, as does a mini play kitchen. The lounge now has an underwater sealife wall and bedrooms have been rethemed.

The work was completed in two phases over seven months as both adult and children’s units had to remain open and operational throughout.

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